5 Ways Working Long Hours Affects Your Productivity and Health

man rubbing his face
man rubbing his face
The average psychiatrist works 48 hours a week. We explore how working long hours can affect your productivity and health.

The standard 9-to-5 work day doesn’t apply to psychiatrists. Between patient visits and administrative tasks, psychiatrists spend approximately 48 hours a week on the job.1 Here are 5 ways working long hours can affect your productivity and health.

  1. Reduced Output: Working longer does not necessarily lead to greater productivity. The Harvard Business Review illustrates a story of diminishing returns: “There’s a large body of research that suggests that regardless of our reasons for working long hours, overwork does not help us.”2
  2. Excessive Alcohol Intake: A 2015 study published in The BMJ found that people who work 48 hours or more per week are more likely to engage in risky alcohol consumption than those who work standard hours per week.3
  3. Daytime Fatigue: Extended hours over a long period of time will often result in fatigue. Sleepiness, poor concentration, and irritability can negatively affect productivity and job performance.
  4. Increased Risk for Depression: A 2012 study published in PLOS ONE found a link between working long hours of overtime and experiencing major depressive episodes.4
  5. Relationship Stress: The more hours you spend working, the less time you can spend with loved ones. Even strong relationships can take a hit if you’re struggling to find a work-life balance.

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Try these tips to better manage your time and stress.

  • Make a List: At the start of each day, write a list of 3-5 tasks you need to accomplish and post it somewhere you will see it.
  • Acknowledge Your Limitations: Before taking on new patients, sitting on a board, or assuming any other additional responsibilities, consider how much you can comfortably handle.
  • Practice Mindfulness: Numerous mindfulness meditation apps are available that feature quick meditation sessions you can engage in throughout the day.
  • Prioritize Fun: Decompress by listening to music, spending time with loved ones, playing a sport, or partaking in another meaningful activity.
  • Monitor Your Mental Health: As a psychiatrist, you care for the well-being of your patients. Don’t neglect your own mental health: if you’re having difficulty managing stress, consider seeing a therapist.


  1. Choosing a career in psychiatry. American Psychiatric Association. Accessed December 27, 2018.
  2. Carmichael SG. The research is clear: long hours backfire for people and for companies. Harvard Business Review. August 19, 2015. Accessed December 27, 2018.
  3. Virtanen M, Jokela M, Nyberg ST, et al. Long working hours and alcohol use: systematic review and meta-analysis of published studies and unpublished individual participant data. BMJ. 2015;350:g7772.
  4. Virtanen M, Stansfels SA, Fuhrer R, Ferrie JE, Kivimaki M. Overtime work as a predictor of major depressive episode: a 5-year follow-up of the Whitehall II study. PLoS One. 2012;7(1):e30719.